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Health informatics competencies in postgraduate medical education and training in the UK: a mixed methods study
  1. Lydia Jidkov1,
  2. Matthew Alexander2,
  3. Pippa Bark1,
  4. John G Williams3,4,
  5. Jonathan Kay4,
  6. Paul Taylor1,
  7. Harry Hemingway1,
  8. Amitava Banerjee1,4
  1. 1 Institute of Health Informatics, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  3. 3 School of Medicine, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
  4. 4 Health Informatics Unit, Royal College of Physicians, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Amitava Banerjee; ami.banerjee{at}


Objective To assess health informatics (HI) training in UK postgraduate medical education, across all specialties, against international standards in the context of UK digital health initiatives (eg, Health Data Research UK, National Health Service Digital Academy and Global Digital Exemplars).

Design A mixed methods study of UK postgraduate clinician training curricula (71 specialties) against international HI standards: scoping review, curricular content analysis and expert consultation.

Setting and participants A scoping literature review (PubMed until March 2017) informed development of a contemporary framework of HI competency domains for doctors. National training curricula for 71 postgraduate medical specialties were obtained from the UK General Medical Council and were analysed. Seven UK HI experts were consulted regarding findings.

Outcomes The International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) Recommendations for Biomedical and Health Informatics Education were used to develop a framework of competency domains. The number (maximum 50) of HI competency domains included in each of the 71 UK postgraduate medical specialties was investigated. After expert review, a universal HI competency framework was proposed.

Results A framework of 50 HI competency domains was developed using 21 curricula from a scoping review, curricular content analysis and expert consultation. All 71 UK postgraduate medical curricula documents were mapped across 29 of 50 framework domains; that is, 21 domains were unrepresented. Curricula mapped between 0 (child and adolescent psychiatry and core surgical training) and 16 (chemical pathology and paediatric and perinatal pathology) of the 50 domains (median=7). Expert consultation found that HI competencies should be universal and integrated with existing competencies for UK clinicians and were under-represented in current curricula. Additional universal HI competencies were identified, including information governance and security and secondary use of data.

Conclusions Postgraduate medical education in the UK neglects HI competencies set out by international standards. Key HI competencies need to be urgently integrated into training curricula to prepare doctors for work in increasingly digitised healthcare environments.

  • health informatics
  • information technology
  • information management

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  • Contributors The study was conceived by AB. Together, AB and LJ designed data collection tools, monitored data collection, wrote the statistical analysis plan, analysed data and produced the initial draft of the manuscript. LJ, MA and AB were responsible for collecting data. AB was guarantor. MA collected data for the scoping review. PB contributed to design of data collection tools and monitoring of data collection. All authors had full access to all data and can take responsibility for the integrity and accuracy of the data analysis. All authors contributed to the writing and revision of the manuscript. All authors have accepted the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was granted by University College London.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The full dataset is available from the corresponding author. All data were publicly available (no patient-level data were used), and therefore consent was not required.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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